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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Vatican plays down reports about Pope's health
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¬†Leading churchmen have played down reports of the Pope's increasing poor health. One of John Paul II's closest aides, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, said there was "no reason for alarm". The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who lunched with the Holy Father on Wednesday, said: "The Pope is a strong man, lucid in mind, with a clear view of the world. "Of course he has real difficulties with pronunciation, especially when he is tired, and he has problems walking," he said on Thursday, The statement were made in response to a wave of reports after Cardinal Christoph SchŲnborn of Vienna said in an interview on Austrian national radio, last week that "even a life as full and intense" as this Pope's "has to end sometime." He said: "Everyone is seeing a sick Pope, incapacitated, who is dying - I don't know how close he is to death - who is nearing the last days and months of his life." He added that the image of the frail Pope "is a difficult sign for our society, which idolizes health." The interview was published by an international news agency under the headline: "The Pope Is Dying." The day before, the Pope's personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, said that the press had distorted a private comment made by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, to the point that it "made him weep". Cardinal Karl Lehman, from Germany, called for the Pope's privacy to be respected. He said the Pope had "the same right to discretion as anyone else." On Thursday, after Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had an audience with the Pope, he told news portal - "It's not like in the media. He is not on the brink." Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury during his meeting with the Pope on Saturday, said: "I think it's quite clear that the Pope is frail. But every day he's there, every day everyone can see him... His mind is very clear and therefore I would have thought there is no need for immediate alarm at all." The BBC reported that the Pope appeared very tired, and his speech was slurred during that 15 minute meeting. Yesterday the BBC reported that the Pope looked stronger, and his speech was much clearer during the two-hour long Mass on the steps of St Peter's Basilica for the canonization of three new saints. The BBC's Rome correspondent David Willey said he felt recent reports of the Pope's imminent demise, had been premature - and that while the 83-year-old was frail he was determined to go on. The BBC's Robert Piggott, also in Rome, said: "the Pope feels he sends a message to the world about old or sick people, demonstrating that they still have value and should not be swept aside."
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